There will always be things that are difficult to talk about. There will always be sensitive topics followed by accusations that are charged with guilt and denial. A big part of inspiring change, however, is learning to accept part of the blame for the way that things are. Whether or not we were responsible for getting our community into these conditions in the first place, we are responsible for getting our community out of them. We have to understand that society won’t change as long as we wait for someone to come change it.
Yes, the media describes uniquely shaped and excessively edited bodies as desirable. The media tells us that the visibility of one’s collarbones is enough to make an accurate judgment of character. It tells us that a living body that looks as if it has been reduced to a stack of bones is indicative of hard work and perseverance. The media tells us all of this, but we are the ones who choose to listen. We don’t all have to gather around the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition and make remarks about some model’s shoulders being too broad. We don’t have to be critical about the girls in a Victoria’s Secret catalog. If these women supposedly have the best figures out there and we still don’t approve, what do we expect to think of our own inherently imperfect bodies? When do we expect to ever be able to look in the mirror and think, this is exactly the body I want?
Conversely, we don’t have to look at these bodies and agree that they are perfect, either. We don’t have to tell the media that we agree with the beauty standards they try to dictate. We are allowed to form our own ideas of beauty.
While motivational quotes always insist that everyone is perfect, it’s never that simple. It’s unreasonable to expect society to see every person as universally beautiful. You won’t like every person you meet, you won’t finish every book you start, and you won’t agree with every opinion you hear. The difference between books and bodies, however, is that we don’t incessantly express our strong disapproval of a certain book at its every mention. It’s okay if a particular body type doesn’t strike us as attractive, but we can’t constantly condemn it. Every body belongs to a human being, and every body type attracts different people. Let’s try not to force our opinions on the rest of society – it’s okay if we don’t all have the same idea of what constitutes physical beauty.
We can’t try to match the reflection we see in the mirror to a preconceived representation of attractiveness. The idea of beauty most of society seems to have is clearly defined, yet not. We think a perfect combination of small – but not too small – thighs, visible – but not too visible – ribs, and a filled out – but not too filled out – bust will surely make the ideal body, yet when all these things fall into place, we think the waist is misshapen and that the face really isn’t all that pretty. It’s not that the “perfect” body doesn’t exist in nature – it’s that we don’t even know what a “perfect” body might look like. We are trying to hold ourselves and others to an impossible standard of beauty that can’t even be fictionalized.
We have to learn to breed confidence. I will often call some person I know beautiful, and a friend will say something along the lines of, “Yeah, but she knows she’s pretty, so that makes her less attractive.” It seems that nobody wants a friend or classmate of ours to have a negative opinion of his or herself, but as soon as they have a positive opinion of themselves, we immediately start to put them down. Every person should see his or her own beauty. We are allowed to look in the mirror and actually like the way we look. Why should confidence be a bad thing? Confidence should be praised and encouraged. We all need to be able to stare at our reflection and like what we see, no matter whose standards of beauty we may or may not match up to. Every person is beautiful to someone, but the most important tier of approval we must strive to reach is our own.